Picking up a two-way radio for the first time? it’s quite tricky to figure out how to talk through this device. I hope you purchased a walkie-talkie that does not require a license to use, or you already have this permission. Otherwise, men in black may knock on your door and report that you have problems! I’m joking, but this is true: if you use the wrong frequency without a license, you could get a large fine. Don’t want to lose a large amount of money? I would not want to either.
Free frequency in the USA – FRS (Family Radio Service), which contains 22 channels in the 462.5625 MHz and 467.7125 MHz range of the UHF band. To use it freely, your walkie-talkie must have an output power lower than 0.5 Watts on the channels 8–14 and 2 Watts on the others. If more, then it’s a GMRS-radio, and you need a license. Family Radio Service is not quite free. According to Federal Communication Commission, it requires a “license by rule.” However, it just means that your radio should fit the bill, i.e. permissible output power and FRS frequency.
In Europe is a PMR frequency (446,000 – 446,100 MHz, including 8 channels). It does not require a license, on condition that the output power of your walkie-talkie does not exceed 500mW. NOT APPROVED for use in the U.S.A or Canada.
Well, let’s make it clear, how can you communicate via hand held walkie talkie?
When transmitting, the walkie-talkie antenna should be directed vertically. Upright exactly! What we see in movies when a wounded cop transmits a message while holding a walkie-talkie horizontally is fiction. The antenna is designed to catch a signal, and the more direct it is, the better it catches the signal.
When talking, a microphone of a 2-way radio should be kept at a distance of about 3-5 cm from your mouth. Speak loudly and clearly, but do not scream: it can only lower the sound quality. Also, don’t keep the walkie-talkie too close to your lips: your handy talkie will definitely not be happy with such proximity with you, and neither will your communications partner .
General principles of radio communication:
- Always introduce yourself and say the receiver’s name;
- Speak little and essentially, do not occupy the channel (average duration of a message is about 15 seconds);
- Remember that all the participants on the channel can hear you, not just your interlocutor.
How to talk on a two-way radio? Step-by-step guide
To begin communication, you should:
- Take radios of the same frequency (UHF + UHF, VHF + VHF, CB + CB). Make sure that this frequency is licensed-free in your country, or you have permission to use it.
- Set up the same channel your receiver is on. For that, you can use the switch near the antenna, or set the channel in the menu if your handheld transceiver has a display.
3. Make sure there are no barriers between you. Walls, buildings, and even trees are all obstacles for short radio waves. When you get used to your device, you will better understand the place’s potential, but for now – do not complicate the first trial run.
4. To switch to the transmission mode, you need to press the PTT button. You need to speak only after the PTT button is pressed. Do not speak into the walkie-talkie before you press this button or at the same time as pressing it.
Here is the sequence:
Press the PTT button – keep it pressed for 1-2 seconds – speak continuing to press the button – let it go after 1-2 seconds of the end of your phrase. When you receive an incoming message, the button should not be pressed.
First, out of habit, everyone tries to start talking immediately after pressing the PTT button. Because of this, the beginning of the phrase breaks off, and the interlocutor hears only the continuation. A little practice and you will get used to it.
The quality of the radio connection is not always good, and if there are walls, hills, or structures around you, then radio coverage may even disappear if you move 5 steps to the side. Therefore, it is customary to repeat important messages to confirm that you heard correctly. For example:
– Come in, Alpha to Falcon! Do You Copy? Over.
– Falcon to Alpha, loud and clear! Over.
– Alpha to Falcon! I see a squirrel on the tenth oak tree on the right, heading for it! Over.
– Roger that the squirrel is on the tenth oak tree on the right, head to it. Over.
– Copy, out.
Basic tips for how to connect walkie talkies
In radio communications, you cannot talk and receive at the same time. Wait until the other participant finishes his message, and only then begin your own.
If you try to invade a conversation, you will only create a strong obstacle and will not be heard! If there are two radio exchanges on one channel, you should reply only to your interlocutors. Just ignore others, as if they did not exist. Still, it’d be better to switch to a free channel.
A message is usually framed with the phrases “Come in” at the beginning and “Over” at the end of a message, also “Out” when you finished and do not wait for the answer. Radio users have a whole walkie-talkie lingo or etiquette – so that there are no misunderstandings.
Remember – everything you air will be heard by all the users who are on the same channel and in the coverage zone (usually up to 2-5 kilometers). An important rule flows out this fact: you should speak briefly and informatively. Unlike cellular communication, where only you and your interlocutor are on the line, the airtime in radio communication is shared among all users who are on the same channel as you and close enough to you. This is especially a common issue for users of handheld transceivers, which only have access to few license-free channels. Sometimes there are so many people on the channel that subtones are necessary.
Frequent group communication mistakes:
- You forgot your callsign or the callsign of your comrades
- You forgot what channel your team is on
- Poorly formulated messages
- Lack of useful information in the message
Never hold your radio by its antenna – you can easily break it.
When carrying in your bag, it’s better to turn off the walkie-talkie.
Walkie Talkie Precautions
- Use only chargers and batteries of the appropriate type and size.
- Do not use a 2-way radio with a damaged antenna.
- Turn off the radio before entering the zone with explosive and flammable substances.
- Do not charge the battery in the area of explosive and flammable substances.
- To prevent electromagnetic interference, turn off the radio where it is required, especially where written signs are reminding you of this.
- Turn off the radio before boarding a plane.
- Turn off the radio before entering the explosive area site.
- Don’t keep the radio under direct sun rays, don’t leave near a heat source.
- When transmitting over a walkie-talkie, keep it upright on distance 3 – 4 cm from your face. And it’s better to keep the antenna at least 2.5 cm from your body.